Texas Wesleyan University President Frederick G. Slabach announced Wednesday afternoon that football will return to the campus for the first time since 1941.
Speaking at press conference in the Baker Building, Slabach said adding football is an essential part of Wesleyan’s overall growth.
“Texas Wesleyan is on the move,” Slabach said, adding that the team will begin scrimmaging next spring and play against other schools in the fall of 2017.
“We’re creating a vibrant student life, encouraging students to get involved and steadily increasing enrollment,” Slabach said.
Slabach also mentioned the possibility of building a multi-use stadium with collaborative partners adjacent to the west side of campus.
“We know that the campus enhancements like the additional housing and the possibility of a stadium adjacent to campus that comes along with football will benefit our students, our neighborhood and Fort Worth,” Slabach said.
Athletic Director Steve Trachier also spoke at the press conference and said that although big changes may be coming to Wesleyan, the core value of both the school and athletics is academic success.
“We all believe in caring for the kids that go to school here and it’s no different in athletics,” Trachier said. “We have coaches that know athletes on a personal level, coaches that understand school comes first 100 percent of the time.”
Trachier said that Wesleyan will not be competing with Southern Methodist University and Texas Christian University for football recruits, but will look at athletes who may have been overlooked by the recruiting process.
“We know that there are literally hundreds and hundreds of very good football players at the high school level who are also ready for the academic rigor of the college classroom,” Trachier said. “We want to be the destination for those athletes.”
Tracier also said the current search for the new head coach is still ongoing and the candidates include names from all over the nation. Wesleyan hopes to have more information soon.
Slabach said that the women’s lacrosse team will begin playing in the fall of 2017.
Campus engagement has been steady across the board, according to a survey taken December by a campus task force looking into adding the sports. The survey found that 66 percent of respondents 265 people are in favor of football versus the 11 percent against.
The survey also found that 74 percent out of 133 people who voted are in favor of adding lacrosse, versus 18 percent against.
Trachier said on Monday that he thinks these findings further suggest the desire for football and lacrosse on Wesleyan’s campus.
“I think the results of the survey shows that adding football and lacrosse is the popular thing to do. The student response to the survey also suggests that this is something the students would like to see happen,” Trachier said.
Some students and athletes, however, see a different side. They find themselves unsure about where their sport falls during this time of change. Tracier states there nothing to be worried about.
“There won’t be any negative effects, we think there will be positive effects if anything. The more we grow the student population here the better it is for everyone in terms of publicity and the awareness of the school,” Trachier said.
The progress is proven in places like Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas, Mary Hardin- Baylor in Belton, Texas and in Wayland Baptist in Plainview, Texas, he said.
“At Lyon College they started football a few years ago and pretty soon they had a band, which they never had before. Student groups kind of of organically grow. It all enriches the student experience here on campus,” Trachier said.
So the addition of lacrosse and football adds to the overall vision for Wesleyan and compliments it, Trachier said.
“I think they detail nicely with what the strategic plan is. It’ll also lend to the growth of the university in terms of bring in new students so it all ties in together,” Trachier said.